News and Events
Each year a number of events are held at the Scottish National War Memorial. Many of these are organised in co-operation with Veterans' Associations. The Memorial is small, but there are usually some seats available to members of the public and if you would like to enquire about the availability of these seats, or if you would like to discuss or arrange a special tribute, please contact the Secretary to the Memorial. Find out more about our annual events here.
Remember that you are most welcome to visit the Memorial at any time during normal castle opening hours.
The 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of Arras, was commemorated at a service in the Memorial on Sunday 9 April 2017.
Scotland had the highest concentration of Scottish troops fighting in a single battle during World War One. The average daily casualty rate was 4,076, which was higher than that at The Somme or the Third Battle of Ypres.
Of the approximate total 159,000 casualties, around a third were Scottish and of those Scots injured an estimated 18,000 lost their lives – the equivalent population of a Scottish town such as Dumbarton, Peterhead or St Andrews, or the capacity of Hearts’ ground at Tynecastle.
The Trustees and Staff of the Memorial were honoured by a visit on in July 2016 by HRH The Princess Royal who attended the Memorial's Annual Service. The Service was made particularly poignant by the laying up of a battle ensign that had been attached to the wreck of HMS Royal Oak.
HMS Royal Oak, a World War One veteran where she had fought at the Battle of Jutland, was sunk by a German U Boat on 14 October 1939 whilst she was at anchor in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Nearly 900 sailors died and the wreck is still a war grave. Every year a new battle ensign is placed on the wreck by Royal Navy divers and the ensign placed the previous year is returned to the members of the Royal Oak Association.
In 2016 the Association graciously allowed the ensign to be laid up in the Memorial. The ensign was laid up by HM's Lord-Lieutenant of Orkney Mr James William Spence and two of the divers who recovered from the wreck.
At 0730hrs on 1 July 1916 the whistles blew and the pipes played ordering men to climb out of their trenches and cross "no-mans" land towards the German positions. So began the Battle of the Somme.
The UK Government announced on 30 November 2015 that Vigils would be held across the country to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. One of the Vigils was held in the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle overnight 30 June and 1 July 2016.
Those Scots who took part in the Battle were represented by groups of Service personnel and Veterans Groups keeping vigil, in silent watches, throughout the night around the Casket within the Shrine of the Memorial. The Casket contains the names of the over 100,000 Scots who fell in the First World War. Over 700 members of the public visited the overnight Vigil held in the War Memorial.
Summer 2014 was an especially busy time for the Trustees and staff of the Memorial, as the Centenary of the outbreak of World War One approached. The highlight of the period was the visit to the Memorial, on 3 July 2014, of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, who attended the Annual Service during which the Colours of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were laid up. Photographs and a video of this very special occasion are available for viewing in the Gallery section of the website.
Summer 2014 saw the publication of Professor Duncan Macmillan's book "Scotland's Shrine - The Scottish National War Memorial".
The book records the history of the Memorial from concept, to completion in 1927. Sir Hew Strachan, one of Britain's leading authorities on World War One, said of this book: "It is a magnificent book: wonderful photographs and matched by serious scholarship. In a flood of books for the centenary that don't matter, at last one that does."
The book can be bought through all good retailers, Historic Scotland shops and direct from the publisher Lund Humphries.